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Howl (2010)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  27 August 2010 (Italy)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 9,988 users   Metascore: 63/100
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As Allen Ginsberg talks about his life and art, his most famous poem is illustrated in animation while the obscenity trial of the work is dramatized.


(written for the screen by), (written for the screen by)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Todd Rotondi ...
Heather Klar ...
Kaydence Frank ...
Allen's Girlfriend (as Kadance Frank)
Joe Toronto ...
Nancy Spence ...


It's San Francisco in 1957, and an American masterpiece is put on trial. Howl, the film, recounts this dark moment using three interwoven threads: the tumultuous life events that led a young Allen Ginsberg to find his true voice as an artist, society's reaction (the obscenity trial), and animation that echoes the poem's surreal style. All three coalesce in hybrid that dramatizes the birth of a counterculture. Written by Sundance Film Festival

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Obscenity Trial That Started a Revolution. The Poem That Rocked a Generation.


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content including language and images, and for some drug material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

27 August 2010 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Uivo  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$51,185 (USA) (24 September 2010)


$617,334 (USA) (4 February 2011)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Shot in 14 days around New York City in March/April 2009. See more »


[first lines]
Allen Ginsberg: "Howl" for Carl Salomon. I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night...
[continues reading but unheard, credits roll]
See more »


Referenced in Doppio urlo (2015) See more »


Uptown Boogie
Written by Teddy Lasry
Courtesy of FirstCom Music
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User Reviews

An Essential Film of Great Ideas
26 December 2010 | by (Out There in the Dark) – See all my reviews

This is a brilliant film. I have not seen a another film that successfully shows how someone creates a work of art, especially a literary work. This film does it brilliantly, largely by quotations from the poem read very effectively by James Franco, who plays Ginsberg. Acted out interviews illuminate many things and the trial itself is extremely involving to watch. Even the animated portions we see while we hear parts of the poem work well. It's a remarkable film about artistic creation and how the artist must be allowed to use his own words and to use language that expresses his meaning fully, not language that is inoffensive to some imaginary reader.

Franco, John Hamm, David Strathairn, Bob Balaban, Jeff Daniels are all at their best, and seem truly committed to the project.

You don't even have to be a fan of Ginsberg, or know much about who he was to enjoy this. I was really impressed, one of the best films of this year, but it will likely be ignored by many.

19 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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